Free bus service for OAPs extended

PENSIONERS have been celebrating after a council agreed to give them an extra half hour of free bus travel every day.

PENSIONERS have been celebrating after a council agreed to give them an extra half hour of free bus travel every day.

Since April, elderly people have been able to use district bus services nationwide without charge following the introduction of a concessionary fares scheme.

However, many pensioners were still left frustrated because the time they were able to access free local travel moved from 9am to 9.30am.

Following complaints from residents, Tendring District Council has now voted unanimously in favour of switching to a 9am start which is likely to begin in August.


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The council is one of the first in Essex to make the move, although its counterparts in Colchester told the EADT last night that it was also planning to make the switch on the same day.

Lawrie Payne, the Tendring councillor in charge of benefits and revenues, said the change would cost up to £50,000.

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He said: “The council was contacted by a lot of residents who expressed concerns about the fact that they could miss doctors appointments and medical appointments at hospital and we felt it was beneficial to change the time.

“The financial implication for the council is very much outweighed by the social implications.”

Mr Payne said the changes would now be widely advertised and that he would review the costs after a year.

Roy Smith, chairman of Tendring District Council, welcomed the news, saying: “I travel on the buses quite a lot and everywhere I have been everyone, particularly in the mornings, has been complaining about the time they can get to travel.”

He said it was important for elderly people to be able to get out and about as it helped them maintain their independence, and “feel young”.

And Paul Smith, the Colchester borough councillor in charge of resources and business, said: “We are looking to co-ordinate with Tendring so we both start on the same day - it makes sense for people to be able to use the same services throughout the whole of north east Essex.

“We said we wanted to deliver this within 100 days of coming to power and I am pleased to say we look like we will be able to do this.”

Mr Smith estimated the cost of the extra half-hour would be about £100,000.

Colchester's cabinet members will vote on the issue, but Mr Smith said he was confident that it would be given the go-ahead.

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